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Stereoboard's Alternative Christmas Song Playlist (The Hives, EELS, The Wombats Feature)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 Written by Luke Bailey
Stereoboard's Alternative Christmas Song Playlist (The Hives, EELS, The Wombats Feature)

Christmas is an excellent time for mince pies. For Toy manufacturers, Santa impersonators and pantomimes there is no month that compares to December. It is an awesome time of year for over sugared children, so awesome that there is a small chance that they might literally explode with excitement for Christmas day. It's an even better time of year for guaranteeing you will hear the same songs you've heard every year, every day from mid September. The 'Christmas Classics'. Quickly what started as festive fun can lead to you buying a megaphone, tracking down Noddy Holder and shouting into his ear "I KNOW!?! I'VE KNOWN FOR MONTHS, IT HAPPENS THE SAME DAY EVERY (expletive of your choice) YEAR.... EVEN IF I DIDN'T KNOW, HEARING SONGS WHICH HAVE BECOME FAMOUS DESPITE BEING TERRIBLE BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE WORD 'CHRISTMAS' IN THEM IS NOT A PLESANT REMINDER!". Before bursting into tears and spending Christmas day quietly sat in the corner, gently rocking backward and forwards, cradling the uncooked turkey and waiting for January to come round.

Nobody wants this, however your sanity can be saved. Just listen to these eight alternative tracks and you can re-instil your faith in music and a healthy sense of cynicism in Christmas, and isn't that what toy-hawking, coca-cola sponsored, commercialised Christmas is all about?

The Hives & Cyndi Lauper - 'A Christmas Duel'
Well probably not, nor is it about this song, the classiest barrage of rudeness this side of the North Pole. Its more tongue in cheek than a lopsided ant eater and nowhere near suitable for kids but still the cut glass voice of Cyndi combined with The Hives (pictured, above) rocking out and the gravelly bass of Pelle Almqvist's warbling make a triumph of a track. It combines the fine tradition of Christmas argumentativeness but with the redemption of "let's spend spend spend this Chris Chris Christmas together". A raucous, angry, fast paced sleigh ride of fun, Silent Night it ain't but it is sadistically jolly and come on, the Hives doing Christmas with Cyndi Lauper. More irresistible than that last purple sweet from the box of Roses.

The Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas (Accoustic)
Sick of elbowing your way through crowded shopping centers? Tired of dosing up with enough Lemsip to cure the cold of a medium size bull elephant? Had enough of scraping frost off the windscreen and snow off your shoes? Ok. Deep breath, pour a large glass of egg nog or mulled wine, preferably in front of a roaring fire, now put this song on.

You done it yet?

Worked a charm eh?

A perfect antidote to the festive overdose this song will lift your mood and put a smile on your face though there is a small chance your family will cast you out if you do what I am currently in the process of and hum it for three days straight.

It is a little gentler than the last two but if you need a cool song for the kid's Christmas party just track down the original non acoustic version for a rockier ride. Then make sure you've not got the song on while the little ones are playing pass the parcel, it's mighty difficult to bring yourself to pause it.

The Wombats - 'Is This Christmas?'
Unmistakeably The Wombats just y'know with a bit more jingling of bells and xylophone than usual. The song is a corker, "What's that burning? My mum shouts down" and taking in the usual Christmas political arguments, tipsiness and spending the overdraft on presents. A uniquely British tune, from our Christmas idiosyncrasies to the trumpet peal at the start and the end which sounds like every town center busking brass player this time of year. Clever and funny but not scrimping on some nifty little riffs and the trademark Wombats backing vocals, somebody put a Christmas hat on that marsupial! For it is Christmas time courtesy of this Liverpool based indie band and if you watch the video... Just watch it.

That's right, you did just see Les Dennis.

The Killers - Don't Shoot Me Santa
Nope, it's not only you, this is weird enough to make Charlie Sheen sit up after listening and say "Wait! I must be on too many drugs. Somebody find me a nice cup of tea and some toast, this is just too much". Alternative Christmas gives you a lot of free reign but this is in an alternative reality, for best results also watch the video but if you are on strong cough syrup this time of year then this is going to give a lot of inspiration for your already messed up dreams. As far as the Killer's style guide goes its pretty Sam's Town, overblown pomp and ceremony and Brandon being soulful and strange about Christmas. Well maybe Mormons do Christmas slightly differently and this is epic nonsense on a scale only the Killers could produce.

Hold Your Horse Is - Wonderful Christmas Time
So technically another one of those songs you couldn't run away from, but performed by the eternally underrated Hold Your Horse Is. And it's originally by Sir Paul McCartney. And has a banjo. And a chorus performed what sounds like everyone gathered at chucking out time at the pub. It's fun, it's frantic, it's a good old Christmas rock out which goes over and above the original, or is what would happen if the childlike McCartney 'Wonderful Christmas Time' became an angry teenager. For best results you do have to play this pretty loudly so either apologise to the neighbours in advance or ask for headphones this Christmas.

Or if you sign up to the mailing list at the HyHi website then this song can be yours for free. It's a Christmas miracle.

Frightened Rabbit - It's Christmas So We'll Stop
Haunting and beautiful. The song sounds like a cold snowy day. A slow starting tune that clocks in over five minutes could easily become a dirge but instead Frightened Rabbit leave you wanting more in an effort which is a lesson in what is hopeful and mournful. The cracking south Scottish voice helps this along and the song builds with the power of an orchestra. It's Christmas, so don't stop listening to this song.

Fountains Of Wayne - I Want An Alien For Christmas
What do you get for the kid who has everything? That's right, a song about wanting an alien for Christmas. Either a clever satirising of the exclusive Christmas 'must have' toy craze or just that the guys from Fountains of Wayne decided that they wanted something that wasn't Stacey's Mum one year. It's silly, irreverent and absolutely brilliant. On the other hand don't play it to your kids else all that will be on the Christmas list will be 'an alien' or if they have exceptional taste 'Fountains of Wayne album'.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
What's that I hear you cry (somehow, from probably quite a few miles away and also the future) Fairytale of new York is a mainstream Christmas song! Oh no it isn't! No really, he calls her an old slut, she wishes for their deaths within the year. Ok fair point, a pretty normal Christmas with family round the table. Still it does do the rounds a lot at this time of year and for me it's almost overplayed, by which I mean whenever I hear it I think 'really this old tune again?' and then by the end of the song I wish it was on repeat. Which coincidentally it has been for the past twenty minutes, I may have a problem. But when it all gets too much for you and "All I want for Christmas is you" comes on for the 17th time that day, just power up the Mp3 player/Ipod/Portable music device of your choice (I'm not telling you how to live your life, except which songs you have to listen to) and put this on loudly over the top until everything is fine again. Why? Because it's just not Christmas without this classic sung and spat out of the mouth's of Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan respectively.

So this Christmas if there's a bit of a cynic in your family then these are the songs to see them through, or just give them socks, can't go wrong with socks for Christmas right?

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